2 January 2018
As many of us return to the workplace clutching our Christmas stomachs, the thought of one more sandwich or one more glass of wine can leave us groaning – much like our chairs as we wedge our post-festive frames into place.
The good news is that the New Year now brings more than just TV ads for slimming help, sportswear and summer holidays. As more of us look to put our excesses behind us and do a little detoxing, Dry January has found its niche at home – and at work.
It’s five years since Alcohol Concern’s first ever Dry January campaign in 2013, reportedly beginning when one of Alcohol Concern’s employees decided to stop drinking before running a half marathon in February. In terms of figures, the increase in people signing up each year has been impressive1:
- Around 4,500 people took part in 2013
- 17,000 in 2014
- 5 million in 2017
Why should employers get on board?
The main reason, say Alcohol Concern, is that alcohol is the biggest risk factor for ill-health, disability and even death for people aged from 15 to 492.
Stress levels at work may also contribute to increased drinking as employees turn to a tipple to help them relax and reduce anxiety. And with stress now one of the main causes of both short and long-term absence3, the tendency to reach for a glass can become a crutch leading to longer-term problems.
As well as a possible dependence on alcohol, Drinkaware points out that, over time, by interfering with the brain’s neurotransmitters, drinking can actually contribute to depression and anxiety, and make it more difficult to cope with stress.
As well as the obvious health (and financial) benefits from a period of abstinence, Alcohol Concern found that 62% of participants slept better and had more energy, while 49% lost weight4.
The result - as well as a huge tick for any workplace wellbeing strategy - is reduced absenteeism and lost productivity through alcohol (estimated to cost businesses around 7.3bn each year5) better performance, and a social bond between employees that isn’t drinking-based. For those companies with a commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, it also provides the perfect opportunity to raise money for charity.
How employers can get on board
Alcohol Concern's Dry January site has a number of ideas and resources for employer and employee alike, including:
- an app
- Dry January scratchcards
- bespoke workplace events and support beyond January 2018, such as helping companies develop a workplace alcohol policy.
- Workplace packs that include social media assets, email footers, and posters and flyers.
Dry January often goes hand in hand with an aim to get fitter and healthier. To help those taking part, lunchtime fitness or running clubs are a cheap way of getting people exercising and away from their desks.
Or why not provide healthy drinks such as smoothies and sugar-free alternatives? Free fresh fruit will always be welcomed and healthy options in the canteen or vending machines can encourage everyone to lead a healthier lifestyle, regardless of whether they’re drying out for January.
To find out more about Dry January and how your business can help itself, your employees and your community, visit Alcohol Concern’s Dry January website.
1 https://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/dry-january [accessed 27.12.17]
2 https://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/dry-january [accessed 27.12.17]
3. CIPD – absence management report 2016
4. https://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/dry-january [accessed 27.12.17]
5. https://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/dry-january [accessed 27.12.17]